It’s the festive time of year again, and with it come shopping lists, family visits and holiday social calendars in full swing. Entertaining can be a daunting task during any season, but toss in out-of-town guests and tightened schedules, and it’s tempting to forgo the effort altogether.
Amy Peskin has seen plenty of parties. As co-owner of South Florida Events, an event planning and catering company based in Coconut Creek, she has worked behind the scenes for events ranging from themed family picnics to full-blown corporate events with hundreds of guests. With 17 years in business, she and her team are sharing a few tips to help make any occasion a success, no matter the size.
Start Planning Early
Determine the experience you want to create and start planning. “Shop for things ahead of schedule to avoid the lines,” Peskin suggests. The earlier you have an idea for your event, the sooner you will be able to hit the stores and avoid a last-minute rush or items being out of stock. Think about the menu, and purchase any nonperishables well ahead of time.
Remember: It’s All About the Food
Yes, the quality of the food matters. But don’t overlook how it’s served. “Presentation of the food is just as important as the food itself,” Peskin says. This doesn’t mean an elaborate display is an absolute necessity, but do consider how items are paired on a plate and whether or not you want to include any garnishes. Sometimes a little sprig of rosemary or a slice of citrus is all that’s needed.
Consider Your Time
Playing host or hostess can be fabulous. Spending the whole time sequestered in the kitchen? Not as fabulous. “If you want to enjoy everything with your guests, you have to think about having some assistance,” says Bernie Pedowitz, the catering director for South Florida Events. Even if it’s one waiter or one bartender, having staff on site will lift some of the responsibilities from your shoulders so you can enjoy the party, too.
“People are going from fine china and to high-grade disposable plasticware,” Pedowitz explains. This trend has given rise to higher-end products that are well above the traditional paper plates and plastic cups. This means you don’t need to sacrifice elegance for the sake of convenience, nor do you need to spend valuable time cleaning up afterwards.
Embrace the Digital
Make technology part of the party. Live streaming, drones, photo booths and continuous photo slideshows allow you to use technology to add an element of entertainment while you capture memories. If you don’t want the digital world to infringe upon your event, ask guests to place their devices in a basket or container upon arrival.
Know When to Bring in the Pros
Hiring an expert simplifies the party-planning process immensely, especially if you have too many ideas, or no ideas at all. “People will come to us with a vague idea and a few photos, and we can turn it into what they are looking for,” Peskin says. A professional will be able to scout out a location, make recommendations with logistics in mind, and create and execute a beautiful occasion based on your tastes.
South Florida Events
South Florida Events started as Mizner Productions, founded by Scott Peskin in 2000. He and Amy became partners in 2011 and rebranded the company, now a one-stop shop for event planning, in 2013. A leadership team of four—co-owners Scott and Amy Peskin, catering director Bernie Pedowitz and executive chef Mark Fisher—creates events of any size. (6601 Lyons Road, Suite D-10, Coconut Creek; southfloridaevents.com)